The media and Rudd:

David Ettridge, co-founder Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Well said. Intimidation is relied upon to protect the powerful. Fears of media licenses being lost and loss by media owners of access to favours all contribute to a breakdown in the integrity of the system. Don Chipp had it right but no one is keeping them honest anymore, especially when journos have a fear of ruffling feathers. The more feathers ruffled the better. If the media cannot or will not reveal and report then we could sell the model to Mugabe. He gets the same result by different means. Now, more than ever, we must ensure that powerful politicians are accountable and exposed for every single abuse of process or of power. These are times when the accountability system — police, DPP, justice and judges are so corrupted by Political appointees that a free unfettered media is our only hope. There is no separation of powers anymore. No media has ever touched the expose I discovered from my research into the corruption that was rampant in my case.

Katie Eberle writes: I read your editorial yesterday and agreed. I had a trial subscription and have been a Crikey Squatter for a long time, and was never really all that convinced by Crikey. But my disgust and exasperation with the MSM, particularly over recent events (like the fuel brouhaha and Iguanagate), is now so great that I want to give you $200 –putting my money where my mouth is etc. Here’s the dough. Please, try to improve your balance between opinion and timely, detailed and accurate (proper old-fashioned independent investigative) reporting. We really need a decent alternative to the SMH and Channel Nine News.

Thomas Richman writes: I’d suggest the biggest reason a good deal of the mainstream media seem is so hysterically hostile to the Labor Party isn’t because of any slights from Kevin Rudd, Lachlan Harris and David Epstein, it’s that the electorate no longer pays them any attention and, in confusion, have fallen back on sleaze, innuendo, cant and purchased commentary… hoping that something, anything, will put them back in the game. We deserve better.

Jim Parker writes: The long list of issues that Suresh Pathy (yesterday, comments) says could result in a one-term Rudd government have one thing in common — there is very little, if not nothing, that any government (Liberal, Labor, Democrat or Green) can do about them — at least in the short term. The notion that there IS something significant our politicians in Canberra can achieve to address rising global interest rates, oil prices, drought, food prices and the credit crisis is a fanciful one existing only in the minds of press gallery journos with a vested interest in misrepresenting to a gullible public the power that governments hold. Yet, every day, we are confronted in our laughingly parochial media with the inane he said-she said reporting of the utterances of a bunch of Cowtown politicians who are impotent to change the global forces affecting us. Does anyone else find themselves sitting in front of the TV listening to some ABC drone blathering on about Brendan Nelson “turning up the heat” on the Rudd government over oil prices and thinking “who gives a flying f-ck?” Walter Kronkite was right about the Australian media — too many reporters chasing too little news.

David Lenihan writes: Suresh Pathy, why didn’t you just write “I cannot tolerate Kevin Rudd”, and spare us the rest of your pontificating. You may wish to reflect on who was essentially responsible for getting Labor over the line last November. Ms Gillard will have her eyes on the Lodge but here you are dealing with an intelligent, gifted politician. There is a lot of water to go under the bridge before she makes her move and when it happens it will be when she chooses. After seeing the shambles the Liberals leadership is in, hardly think Labor will go down the same street. No, get used to Kevin, he will be around a lot longer yet.

The Liberal Party’s take on climate change:

David Menere writes: Re. “Coalition’s greenhouse denialism is a cynical disgrace” (yesterday, item 1). Regarding Bernard Keane’s item yesterday, I (and I’m sure many others) would be interested to see Greg Hunt’s thesis on carbon pricing. Could he make it available, or at least inform us in which university library it resides?

Chris Hunter writes: While I basically agree with Bernard Keane’s summation of the Liberal Party’s topsy turvy policy on global warming one thing keeps sticking in my craw. When recently on a holiday to New Zealand I visited the Franz Josef glacier and was surprised to discover that it has been steadily growing in size since its near total depletion in 1974. As the base of this glacier is not that far above sea level then how can this be? I assumed it would have been continually receding. Does anyone have an answer for this?

Gavin Greenoak writes: Science is fundamentally about questioning and falsifying hypotheses. The causes of climate change have been hijacked by politics, and a “say so all of us” which has only a profound nuisance value for scientific enquiry. Science has become a business since the “privatisation” of universities. Climate change may be due to human pollutants, but we have now entered an “age of embarrassment” where it becomes nigh impossible to maintain a rational scepticism ready to admit new evidence, when even to begin to do so attracts the charges of denialism etc. This kind of thing belongs with a medieval priesthood and not a post-modern scientific process.

The cost of petrol:

James McDonald writes: Re. “Rising fuel prices may affect your waist as well as your hip pocket” (yesterday, item 15). Thank you for pointing out that there is more to the oil-price problem than driving cute cuddly cars or riding bicycles, commendable as these are. Readers who’ve been writing in crowing about their back-to-nature lifestyle and supposed low-carbon footprint — think again. The tyranny of distance in this country, and our lazy preference for moving freight by road, means the cost of diesel is as all-pervasive as GST; an invisible millstone around our necks every time we buy food, building materials, paper, or even organic recycled non-genetically-modified free-range bicycle tires. The answer is not Fool-watch, public protests against oil companies, or meetings with the Saudis (whose stroke of genius was that anyway?). A very big chunk of the answer is for the government and community to read the excellent report the House of Reps completed last year on freight infrastructure, allocate some of that whopping infrastructure fund to real development instead of more road upgrades in marginal seats, and start working through the big recommendations instead of just the easy stuff on the edges. The central idea of it is: get as much domestic freight as possible off trucks and onto freight trains, which according to the Freight Rail Operators Group can move goods with 9 times the energy efficiency of trucks.


Ray Edmondson writes: Re. “Tsvangirai’s presidential cop-out is a defeat for democracy” (yesterday, item 5). It’s easy from our comfortable distance to say that Morgan Tsvangerai shouldn’t have “copped out” in withdrawing from the run off election, but he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. He won the first election round outright, and that should have been the end of the matter. Mugabe forced a run off election by manipulating the results to take Morgan just below the finishing line. It quickly became clear that Mugabe would never allow his opponent to win no matter what the actual results: he has now even claimed, by invoking the divine right of kings, that only God can remove him from office — and quite possibly he believes it. The run off election is a farce: what is the point of sacrificing more lives in a futile campaign? If anyone can be said to have “copped out” in this unfolding tragedy, it is we of the international community who are doing too little, too late. We have stood by while hyperinflation, starvation and terror have stalked the land. We have seen Mugabe steal elections before. It should have come as no surprise that he is acting true to type now. He will not depart without external and perhaps armed persuasion.

Fixing politics:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “Fixing Politics: How to think long-term on water” (yesterday, item 12). Bernard Keane, in describing the problems of Australia’s broken political system, noted the media’s obsession with seeing the political game in adversarial terms. This is part of the problem, but the real manifestation is seen in a press gallery that can’t see any material difference between a monstrous injustice on the one hand, and a trifling issue of style on the other. Once the collective media have found the pigeonhole, no politician can escape regardless of their efforts. The media worship of the snappy response over actual wisdom, and we get the society we deserve. Unfortunately, the option is what we have at state level in Tasmania: two major parties with no differences of opinion on anything, with one in power and the other waiting quietly to inevitably inherit power. Both parties controlled by the same narrow interests. Truth used to be a high ideal among journalists and writers; perhaps it’s time to revive this discredited notion.

Nick Minchin:

John Goldbaum writes: Bernard Keane’s stories that the Coalition greenhouse denialism a disgrace (Yesterday, Item 1) and about the wheat farmers shouting Get yourself a real issue, Brendan! (Yesterday, Item 8) have in common the poor political judgement of right-wing Liberal power broker, Senator Nick Minchin. As Bernard reminded us, Nick Minchin is “the bloke pulling Brendan Nelson’s strings” and Brendan is “here all week”, but maybe not much longer than that! The cockies were cranky because Agriculture Minister Tony Burke accepted the amendments by the Coalition in the Senate to the Wheat Export Marketing Bill 2008. It seems Nick Minchin believed his amendments would be unacceptable to the government and bright spark Barnaby Joyce agreed with the tactics, but they made a mess of their own amendment because they only amended one bill and passed a second bill which left in place a regulation preventing the total deregulation of the wheat industry. The whole cynical exercise was an attempt to protect AWB’s monopoly and demonstrated Nick Minchin’s total political incompetence and could result in his factional followers deserting him because of his bad advice.


Glen Frost writes: Re. “SUVs off the shopping list in the US, but not here” (yesterday, item 24). Great article: I’d be keen to know the percentage split of sales in rural versus urban Australia.


Alex Gosman writes: Re. “Qantas trashes the brand to save the business” (yesterday, item 4). Your article re Qantas trashing values is spot on. I was coming back to Sydney from San Diego via Los Angeles last Thursday evening on QF 12. At around 8am that morning I was contacted by Qantas as to whether I wanted to come back via Melbourne as the business class seats were over booked on the Sydney flight. I said “no” and then 15 minutes later a SMS arrives saying the flight has been delayed 12 hours and will now leave at 10am the next morning rather than 10.30pm that night — all other flights were full. Qantas then put up passengers in LA and we got to the airport by 8am the next morning. The flight was called at 10.45am but we sat on the tarmac for nearly two hours in sweltering conditions essentially because they needed a machine to start the engines and the original machine was too small in capacity. Because of the two hour tarmac delay that meant we landed at 8pm on Saturday night in Sydney and only those passengers on the 10.20pm flight to Melbourne could catch connections. I missed by 10 minutes the 9.10pm connection to Canberra so we all spent another night in Sydney courtesy of Qantas. At no stage we were advised of the reason for the delay and obviously Qantas was caught on a hop as they had no menus for the flight. Service levels were okay. I understand the Friday night QF 12 flight was an old plane with only recliner seats for those in business and first class. Certainly a big tarnishing of the brand and all the scrimping and saving is now apparent, at the passenger’s expense. My fear is I go to Bali for holidays on Sunday with the family and firstly have to use Qantas to make it to Sydney and then hope a serviceable plane is available for the trip to Bali.

Charles Shavitz writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Monday, item 7). Crikey published: “Flying on Qantas last Saturday night aboard QF 89 from Hong Kong to Melbourne over the equator, the 777 suddenly went upwards seemingly nearly vertically and under my feet at the emergency exit, I was red hot. We then came down quickly after about 60 secs and nothing was said.” Your informant must have been flying with another airline, because QF does not have a single Boeing 777 in their fleet (though they probably now regret their decision not to participate in the 777 Program, given the significant fuel economy this aircraft offers compared to 747).

Tiwi education:

Willem Schultink writes: Paul O’Halloran (Monday, comments) in his rather intolerant comments on the nature of Tiwi college chooses to ignore the fact that the NTCSA was invited by the Tiwi Land Council and the Tiwi Education Board to assist them to establish a school on the islands. It was the indigenous inhabitants of the Tiwi Islands who are the prime movers here. Are they allowed to make choices about the education of their children too? Perhaps the indigenous people themselves have chosen what they think is most appropriate to their culture? And how does he know that what is taught there is “dogmatic, anti-learning and anti-questioning propaganda”? Has he examined the curriculum? The answer is “No!” or he could never have made those comments. I do have some experience with schools of this type, and they are certainly not anti-learning! Far from it. They promote a healthy, questioning, open attitude to life. The Tiwi islanders will benefit greatly from the school and the commitment of both the staff and the Tiwi Education Board in making it work.

World Youth Day:

Judy King writes: Kristina Keneally and Jim Hanna (yesterday, comments) fail to acknowledge in their comments about World Youth Day that a vast amount of taxpayers money has already been wasted on installing smoke alarms, portable showers and hot water services in public schools during the last few weeks. Now those schools are not going to be used, the alarms and hot water services are being removed so the contractors who installed them are being paid twice. It is galling for the public schools to witness this waste when their facilities are chronically under funded as it is. All this should have been sorted out long before the comforts deemed appropriate for Catholic pilgrims, but not it seems, for public school students, were installed.

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